How to get your NC REAL ID

A NC REAL ID, with a gold star in the upper-right-hand corner PC: NCDOT 

You may have heard of this term before, but we’re here to break down what exactly REAL ID is, and how to get it. While it may just look like an extra gold star on your license, we’re here to unpack what it means + what it’s used for – and how + why to get yours.  

What is a REAL ID? It’s a driver’s license or ID card issued by the DMV. It looks just like a normal driver’s license, but has a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. This star means that you have met the new federal identification standards – created by congress in response to 9/11

Starting May 3, 2023, a NC REAL ID is required to visit nuclear sites, military bases, federal facilities (courthouses, prisons, etc) + to board a commercial airplane. You can still fly or visit these locations without a REAL ID, but will need to provide a U.S passport or additional documents. Some military bases have already begun to require the REAL ID for entry. 

A NC REAL ID is not required to drive, vote, apply for federal benefits (social security), enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (i.e. post offices), go to a hospital or receive life-saving services, or participate in law enforcement proceedings + investigations (jury duty or testifying). 

To get the REAL ID, you must visit a DMV and bring certain documents with you. These are:  

  • One document with your full name, that proves your identity and date of birth. This can be a birth certificate. 
  • One document with your full name and full Social Security Number, confirming your Social Security number. This can be your Social Security card (not a photocopy).
  • Two documents with your current physical address, proving North Carolina residency. These can be a NC vehicle registration card and utility or cable bill.
  • If you are not a US citizen, you will also need one document, with your full name, proving legal presence/lawful status. This can be a citizenship certificate. 
  • If you have changed your name, you will need one or more documents verifying any + all name changes. This can be a marriage certificate or divorce decree. 

To get the full list of accepted documents, click here